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Academics predict a bright future for arts and humanities research

Posted Monday 30 May 2011

Professor Penny Sparke, Kingston University Pro Vice-Chancellor for ResearchKingston and other newer universities can add an important dimension to research into the arts and humanities, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research Professor Penny Sparke says.

She was speaking after learning that Kingston University was set to receive at least £370,000 in funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The Council's grant will fund annual study for 14 students over the next three years ­­- four at PhD level and 10 completing Masters.

"The award is a real vote of confidence in Kingston University's research in these areas and the in way in which we approach them," Professor Sparke said.  "We applied for funding into a wide range of the arts and humanities - from quite traditional subjects like philosophy and history of art to newer subjects like design and film, digital and media production."

"Studying arts and humanities is crucial. You can't do scientific research without a human face, without subjects like philosophy and ethics," Professor Sparke added.

Kingston's Associate Dean at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Professor Simon Morgan Wortham said building relationships with external partners was an important part of the research they conducted. "We have deliberately gone out and established links to organisations like the Natural History Museum and Historic Royal Palaces and benefitted hugely from the exchange of ideas. In other areas, like creative writing, we've brought in leading figures like Hanif Kureshi to become writers in residence." The Faculty has appointed 13 professors and 40 early career researchers during the past two years.

Kingston Unversity has built links with Historic Royal Palaces.Associate Dean at the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture Professor Fran Lloyd believes the AHRC investment in Kingston recognises the distinctiveness of a university environment where practising artists, designers, filmmakers and architects work alongside art and design historians. "That means that researchers are part of a community that is engaged with innovative and creative activity that has social and economic impact beyond the university. Our professional and industrial partners play a vital role and students benefit enormously from this exchange. In turn, our postgraduate students go on to work across the creative and cultural sectors and contribute to the training of the next generation of researchers," she said.

Following the Browne Review into Higher Education, the Government is withdrawing funding from most arts subjects and instead focussing on medicine, science, technology, engineering and mathematics. However Professor Sparke insists that universities should remain confident in their ability to conduct research in the arts and social sciences.

"If you are a research active university it benefits everyone. Undergraduates prosper from the energy and enthusiasm they encounter, the researchers can be confident that the university is going to back them and the university can attract the very best academic talent," she said.

  • Find out how to apply for the new studentships at Kingston University.


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